I was lucky enough to do a bit of modelling a few months ago and I got to wear a pair of amazing Halston pants. They weren’t even in my correct size (there was a bit of back-clipping involved), but I still fell instantly in love with them. The light, drapey fabric screamed Spring, and I just loved the large overlapping pleat at the front. Needless to say, I examined them very closely and took a lot of photos.
There are a few sewing patterns out there that are reasonably close in style, but nothing that is actually the same. The Ebony pants by Style Arc have a similar feel, but are pull-on, elastic waist pants with a mid-rise. The Halston pants are high waisted, with a regular waistband and back darts, symmetrical pleats next to the front pockets, and a centre front invisible zipper hidden beneath a large front pleat. What may seem like small design differences can make the world of difference to how a final product feels and looks. I felt it would be simpler for me to start with a well fitted pair of trousers and adjust the design from there. It’s not hard to cut and slash a few pleats. That’s all the overlapping pleat is in the front. It’s just a pleat that begins at the CF, at the same position as the zipper.
My pants are far from perfect. This was a wearable muslin (so I’m not too worried about the waistband puckers). I used the most hideous, poly suiting from Joann. I almost wish I’d spent a bit more now since they worked out better than expected. I could stand to add a half inch to the crotch length to bring the pants a little higher to my true waist. I also need to straighten my side seams by adding to the back and taking from the front and vice versa. See how my outer leg seam curves around to the back.
I love the look of pink silk with grey. But in real life, I’m most comfortable pairing these pants with a white shirt and wool boob tube. It’s just a little hard to show off the neat front pleat of the pants in this way though!
I don’t like sewing staples very much. However, I had a bit of linen jersey in my stash and thought it might make a nice top for Fall.
I used Vogue 8952, and made View B in a size 12.
I made a few very small changes to the pattern:
- I narrowed the waist/hip flare.
- I *think* I shortened it a little too. I wanted a simple, long sleeved top rather than a flared (borderline) tunic.
- I lengthened the sleeves by an inch.
- I also attached the funnel neck a little differently. I doubled it over, rather than leaving it as a single hemmed piece. I didn’t want quite so much drape around my neck.
I don’t mind the way this top turned out. It’s not perfect, but it is perfectly wearable. The neckline is more stretched out in my top than what you’d normally see (even though I did stabilise it). I should have adjusted for my broad shoulders/back (as I would normally do if I were sewing a woven fabric). The neck seam should probably sit a little further in towards my neck on each side. However, I knew that the type of knit I was using, and the wide nature of the neckline would be very forgiving to broad shoulders. And it is comfortable to wear so I can deal with it.
I found this wonderful pink silk dress at an estate sale recently. It is completely covered in sequins and beads which obviously made it irresistible to a magpie like me.
The dress was a very good fit exactly at is was, but with the wide, unfitted sleeves and shoulder pads, it was also quite old-fashioned looking. However, I could see that it had potential.
My first job was to remove the shoulder pads. This was as easy as a quick snip, and it let me get a better visual of how the dress would look with simpler sleeves. Losing the shoulder pads helped the look of the dress immensely, however, I still needed to do something about the sleeves.
I thought about slimming down the sleeves and then re-attaching them, but the armscye was set too low for a slimmer sleeve and the fabric was too delicate to play around with too much. In the end, I simply unpicked the sleeves, brought the side seams in a little (by a tiny wedge under the arm) and then re-finished the sleeveless armscye. To maintain the contrast edge beading and to keep the whole thing neat, I stitched everything by hand.
I thought about shortening the hem of the dress, but I’m going to keep it long. I’ll probably need to wear a slip though. That silk is sheer in the light!
When I purchased this vibrant double faced wool crepe way back in 2014, my plan was to make a skirt. But at some point, I got distracted by a desperate need for wide leg pants. I really loved my wide leg pants but they weren’t getting as much wear as they deserved. My issue was mainly with the crotch. The pants were an amazing fit, but the double crepe was so weighty that it pulled the crotch down when I wore them. It annoyed me.
Now the great thing about pants with extreme leg width is that they are incredibly easy to convert to a skirt (assuming you don’t mind a centre front seam). I unpicked the legs and then snipped the tiniest little triangle away from the crotch and inner leg seam. I then just shaped the seams to fit an A-line skirt design. No compromises had to made because there was seriously so much leg fabric to work with. I did the same to the full length silk lining.
I’m so in love with this skirt now. It’s beautifully warm and vibrant enough to lift even the dreariest spirits in Winter. Ironically, the weather turned on the charm for this photo shoot. After spending a couple of weeks in the negatives, we had a two days with tops of 13 degrees Celsius. It’s funny how temperature is relative to what you are used to. I would have considered this one of the coldest days of a Sydney Winter, yet in Kansas, we’re kicking the kids outside to play and gardening in t-shirts for the day!
Note: If you are thinking about refashioning pants into a skirt, it’s important to note that what I did here will not work unless the pants have extremely wide legs. Most pants or jeans will require extra piecing through the front and back (remember this style of denim skirt from way back). There just isn’t enough fabric in slimmer leg pants for a simple finish in the front.
Top: Pendleton wool (refashioned) / Skirt: made by me / Bag: vintage Coblentz / Shoes: Derek Lam
I’m not sure how long I’ve had this pink faux leather in my stash, but it was always destined for Miss Six. She’s such a groovy little chickadee.
I used the Parachute pants pattern from Oliver + S. I removed the side panel, narrowed the legs a little, and lengthened them to the next size up to better fit my tall girl.
The legs are obviously too long on Miss Six right now. I was planning on hemming them, but the faux leather looks cleaner unfinished, so the extra length comes from the hem allowance that was never turned up. We’ll probably leave it as it is for now and just roll the legs up until Miss Six’s legs stretch (which happens regularly anyway!).
I had a little bit of wool fabric and lining leftover after the making of Miss Seven’s tailored coat. It was precisely the right amount for ladies skirt. Fancy that.
My original plan was to make a simple, straight skirt using my own skirt sloper. However, when I laid out the wool, it was a lot wider than I remembered and it suddenly seemed a shame to limit myself to a pencil skirt when there was clearly more fabric I could work with.
Starting with a basic pencil shape, I left the back skirt piece unchanged. I then traced the front skirt piece in full, mirroring the pieces as if to avoid cutting on the fold. In the diagram below, the grey shaded pattern is my altered front piece. I extended the waist along the existing pattern line and shortened the hem width a little. I then simply connected these points with a diagonal line.
It was very important to identify and mark the CF point. This was a perfectly fitted skirt pattern and those CF points needed to match up when I wrapped the skirt around.
I cut my lining pieces to the same pattern as the outside fabric, minus about 1.5 inches in hem length. Although, to be honest, I always reduce my seam allowance a smidgen when I sew the lining to make sure it ends up a tiny fraction looser than the outside fabric (you don’t want to end up with any pulls or tension visible on the outside).
I sewed the hems of the lining and fabric together first and then turned the skirt out and basted all the other sides together. I bound the CF edges with the opposite side of the wool fabric, although the contrast is totally unnoticeable. I then attached the contrast (once again unnoticeable) waistband and fastenings.
The skirt I made is a true wrap skirt. It is fastened inside with a ribbon bow and secured with a hook and bar on the outside. I added a leather fastener over the hook and bar for aesthetics. The same pattern pieces could easily be used to create a mock wrap skirt. There would need to be an invisible zipper placed at the side or back. I’d also crop the top portion of the (underlayer) front piece so there is little overlap with the top layer and therefore, reduced bulk at the waistband. This would need to be stitched in place which would limit the freedom of movement that you get with a true wrap skirt, but the benefit would be a sleeker, less bulky front. It’s something I might try next time.